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Thursday, December 25, 2014

THE PERFECT GIFT


THE PERFECT GIFT

This Christmas... I want to share with you a story.  

I found a movie on TV.   If you can track down a DVD and watch it, it is a real good one.  Especially for those who are missing the real Jesus story in today's onslaught of meaningless materialism.  The opening picture caption links to the trailer of the movie. 

The info describes the movie as... 

"A stranger helps a teenage girl learn the meaning of Christmas."  

There is a girl called Max who lives with her single Mom.  The girl's birthday is on December 25th and due to such a date, the girl is bummed out with Christmas.  She ends up making friends with a long haired handyman  (named Jess) that is just "passing through" the town and has volunteered to build the local church's outdoor nativity.  

Max has a school assignment... an essay  "What is Christmas?"  As she spends her afternoons hanging out at the church with Jess, she learns about Christmas from the son of a carpenter.  (Yes, Jess introduced himself to the pastor as boy that grew up working in his dad's carpenter shop) 

While Max is having a history lesson from the travelling carpenter, Max's mom is faced with organizing the annual festivities at work... what starts out as a winter gala becomes a Christmas party when Mom stands up for the real identity of the holiday at her the board meeting. 

Is Jess more than just a travelling handyman that dropped into town.  Seems so.  

The pivoting point of the movie is when two men come to meet with the pastor and remind him that there is a city ordinance prohibiting the display of religious material in a commercially zoned area.. which the church borders on.    So the nativity scene is dismantled, but not for long... the members of the community gather together and rebuild it.  

Well because the nativity scene is re-erected, a city meeting is called to inform the town that the church is in violation of the ordinance and they must pay a five thousand dollar fine. 

Jess shows up at the courthouse and what he shares next ... well, listen to it yourself.  Just click on the  link below. 

THE PERFECT GIFT

"God never wanted to force his Son on anyone."

"When God  came to earth, he came to the least, the last, the lowest and the lost."

"While they were seeking God, they found the He'd been looking for them their whole lives."

I won't spoil the rest of the movie, just in case you want to watch it.  

The movie is the dose of encouragement that I needed this season.  If you have read some of my posts, you might get a picture that I have been somewhat discouraged when it comes to this time of year.  This year was no different.  The same cloud of discouragement came over me.  I am saddened that so much of what we call Christmas has been taken over not only by secular commercialism and materialism... I am grieved more by how religious tradition has taken Jesus and his story and covered it up.  Not only the story of a baby in a manger, the real Jesus story.  Who he was and who he still is and who we can be with him in us.  

GOD HAS COME TO EARTH FOR A VISIT. 
Listen to the story

THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS...
Thank you, Jesus, for coming... 

Thank you, God for taking on humanity
 as the ultimate act of Love.  

Jesus, You are the Perfect Gift.

THANK YOU!!!!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JESUS!!!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

CHOICES AND THE RIPPLE EFFECT

CAN YOU EVEN GRASP ALL THAT IS SET INTO MOTION WITH ONE WORD OR ACTION?


It was a perfect evening.  Still and quiet.  I walked down to the dock to enjoy the peace and calm.  There was no wind, no rain, no boats, no bathers.  I sat down on the end of the dock and just watched the lake surface.  It was absolutely still.  Nothing was moving the water.

In my hand I held a stone.  In that moment, I had a choice.  I could leave perfection and just admire the stillness and smooth serenity.  Or I could let it fly... the stone that is.


I chose in that moment to throw the stone.  The perfection was changed to a different kind of beauty.  It was a rippling beauty.  One circle made two circles and two circles make three circles... and it grew.  What once was a picture of perfect stillness, now were growing circles, multiplying ripples, all set into motion by one stone, by one choice. 


How about two stones?  Not that far apart, dropped at the same time.  I pulled out two stones and dropped them in the water at the same time.  It caused a collision of ripples.  For the next hour I gathered stones and kept throwing them in the water to see the cascade of ripples I could create.  It was fun in the moment to see all the patterns created.  The stone had no choice but to be thrown, the water had no choice but to respond to the movement created by the stone.  The choice lay with me.  I initiated the ripples.  


I could have left perfection alone, but for whatever reason, I chose not to.  I stopped with the stone throwing and discovered that the water did not even out right away.  The rippling continued in its travel.  I no longer had the choice within me.  The ripples had taken over.  They were set on a course that I could no longer control. There was nothing I could do to bring back the perfection of the moment I had experienced.    I could only sit and wait and watch the ripples:  the response to my choice. 


Saturday, October 4, 2014

TRUTH...


Then Jesus turned to the Jews who had claimed to believe in him. "If you stick with this, living out what I tell you, you are my disciples for sure.  Then you will experience for yourselves the truth, and the truth will free you."  JOHN 8:31-32


TRUTH...
(poetry by Ruby Neumann) 

I am surrounded by lies

Flooded with deception
The world around 
Has rained illusion on me
What is real?
What is good?
What is not out to destroy me?

There is nothing out there that will redeem me 

From the insanity
It all threatens to push me farther 
into the crevasse of my own damaged imagination

Stop me from believing any of it
Stop me from trusting anything again

Let me read once again about TRUTH

TRUTH is not a doctrine
TRUTH is not a statement
TRUTH is not a conviction
TRUTH is not reality

TRUTH IS A PERSON




"because of the truth, which lives in us and will be with us forever:"
2 JOHN 1:3 (NIV)

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.  My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”

 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?  Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.  Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.  And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
JOHN 14:1-14 (NIV) 




Monday, August 4, 2014

Drew Marshall and Wayne Jacobsen: Who the are and how they've influenced my journey.



DREW MARSHALL


WAYNE JACOBSEN

"Every step I have walked on this journey is one more footprint on a road well travelled. "

 Ruby Neumann
June 22, 2014


( all links in post are highlighted in black font)

I was looking for a quote to start off this post.  Couldn't find one that fit... so I made up one.  I would like to introduce you to two people that have walked the road that I am walking on.  Their footprints have been etched in the dirt before I even knew the whereabouts of the road.  If someone were to ask me who has influenced me along this journey, I would have to give the names of Drew Marshall and Wayne Jacobsen. 

 I have attached their websites, so I am not going into too much detail about their journeys.  You can link up and check out their stories on line.  I want to share how they connected with me on my journey and how blessed I have been because of that connection. 


 Drew Marshall hosts a four hour radio show each Saturday afternoon airing out of Oakville, Ontario on Joy 1250.. also streaming live off of his website.   The Drew Marshall Show  (TDMS) is Canada's Most Listened to Spiritual Talk Back Radio Show.

I discovered Drew Marshall when he was interviewed on 100 Huntley Street. 


It was on January 29, 2007.  I think I was sick, because I was home that day and had tuned in to 100 Huntley Street.  I had never seen anyone like that on Huntley Street before.  My interest was immediately peaked.  

No one actually verbalized his actual thoughts like Drew Marshall did.  I was "wowed", that someone could actually get away with "being real" on TV.  Actually he didn't really "get away with it".  Huntley didn't air the interview for its evening slots.  I can't remember what they admitted officially, but I'm thinking too much anticipated controversy.  

I started listening to The Drew Marshall Show  after that.  I would download shows because at the time, I didn't have capability to listen on line.  I started in 2007... that was seven years ago and I still enjoy the show. 

Drew gets real with his guests.  He is not afraid to dig deep into their lives and struggles... not digging for dirt, but digging for the real person.  He knows there are a lot of people on the Jesus journey and most of them haven't had a smooth ride.  Christian media often portrays the "glory stories" (as Drew calls them).  And it is often disheartening for people who want to follow Jesus, but keep tripping.  Drew doesn't focus on the glory stories.. he wants his listeners to hear others talk about their faith and their struggles.  This journey isn't a cake walk at the best of times. 


Drew has a plethora of guests.. from media personalities to unknown travellers. But all of them have a story, and there is a freedom on TDMS that allows them to share sides of their story not heard on mainstream media. 


I got a chance to meet Drew and sit in on a taping of TDMS.  It was September 8, 2007.  I made a trip to the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) to catch Heaven's Rehearsal.  I had gone on line on the TDMS forum and expressed my enthusiasm for being in Joy 1250's listening area on a Saturday to catch the show.  Drew read about my trip and invited me to sit in and catch the show in studio.  It was a memorable experience.  In studio guests that day were Reynold and Kathy Mainse from Crossroads sharing about Heaven's Rehearsal.  

Some of my favourite interviews over the years have been Gary Burghoff (Radar of MASH); Jase Robertson (Duck Dynasty); Paul Young (Author of the Shack); and  Anne Graham Lotz 

I am going to finish off this portion of the post with the comments I wrote in the Special Thanks section of the Acknowledgments page in my book "Still Broken". (published in 2008) 



 Drew Marshall and TDMS:  You have been the encouragement that makes me want to tell the world that it's okay to be "Still Broken".  There is a "broken leg" of the Church (Body of Christ) that is longing to have healing,  but it has been a very difficult journey.  You've wrapped your arms around these precious children of God and reminded them that no matter what they've done, what life has thrown their way and what brokenness they still experience... 

"God hasn't given up on them!"

Drew, I want to do the same



Where do I start with this one? 

 Wayne Jacobsen was interviewed by Drew on TDMS, September 19, 2009.  But maybe that isn't the first time I heard about him.  It is just foggy for me which came first.  I also got introduced to him through a project he was greatly involved with. 


I got The Shack book from my friend Cherie just before I left Calgary in fall of 2007.  I didn't read it right away, though, but when I did... it was... eye opening, thought provoking... and maybe even a little life changing.  It was either through the book or the interview on TDMS, that I was introduced to The God Journey podcast with Wayne and Brad Cummings.  Both co-collaborators and publishers of the book.


The God Journey started off as a podcast between two "ex-pastors" that wanted to have a conversation.  

"An ever expanding conversation of those thinking outside the box of organized religion" TGJ.

Over the years the podcast has welcomed a lot of people into its conversation...  

- People who are concerned, disillusioned and frustrated with how organized religion has painted a rather disturbing picture of God and His Love for His creation.

- People who love Jesus incredibly, but are not loving what is being labeled as "church" in the world.  

- People who are no longer content to live under the obligations and expectations they were raised with.  

- People who want to experience the life that the Holy Spirit has to offer them, but are being restricted by the walls and rules of the institution. 

I was and am one of those people who became disillusioned with the life I had led and the obligations I was somehow chained to.  Listening to Wayne and Brad's stories and the stories of their guests had a deep impact on me.  

The next step in the journey brought me to a couple of books that Wayne had authored.  Both of these books were written before the Shack, but I didn't get to read them until after I read the Shack. 



"SO YOU DON'T WANT TO GO TO CHURCH ANYMORE"  or otherwise known as The Jake Book was the next "life-changing" book I read after The Shack. Like the Shack, it is a fictional story, with a lot of whole-hearted truth within the pages. 

I like this quote from the Jake Book website:

"If you’re tired of just going through the motions of Christianity and want to mine the depths of what it really means to live deeply in Christ, you’ll find Jake’s story will give you hope for your own. This book probes the difficult questions and offers some far-reaching answers. It just might turn your world upside-down as well!"

Well... in a way, it actually turned my world right side up again.  That is too long of a story for this post. 


The next book of Wayne's that I read actually was published a few years before the Jake Book.  He Loves Me isn't a fiction like the Jake Book.  It is  about... 'the relationship God has always wanted with you'.

"Wayne has often said that he cannot conceive of writing a more significant book in his lifetime than this one. Learning to live in the reality of the Father’s affection rather than the false performance of religious obligation will draw you deeper into friendship with him, transform you from the core of your being and free you to make him known in the world. Sharing that journey with other believers will show you just how awesome church life can be."
It is a book I like to return to every now and then.  

Unlike Drew Marshall, I haven't personally met Wayne Jacobsen.  But I have discovered that he is someone that likes to correspond back with you once you have written in.  In closing this segment, I want to share Wayne's reply to the first email I sent him.  My initial email was pretty long... it was me unloading my story, so I won't share that here, but I like what he had to say in his reply. 

What a great story, Ruby.  I’m sorry for the pain you’ve been through, but I’m grateful you’re learning to separate the pain of religion from the reality of God.  May he continue to lead you more and more into the fullness of his life and freedom.  It is a process.  It takes some time.  May he continue to draw you into his arms and win you to a greater fullness of his love.

In him, 

Wayne

* * *
There you have it.  Only two men in the large scheme of things... but two men who, in sharing their journeys have helped this traveller along on hers.


THANK YOU DREW AND WAYNE!



Sunday, June 8, 2014

Father's Day Cards and Perfect Love


This Post is written for the kids out there
 (younger or older) 
who can still give their Dad
 a Father's Day Card ...

It's written by someone who can't anymore.


  
I am going to start off by offering no Guilt trips or Shame sessions in this post.  This is really not my desire to guilt anyone or shame anyone.  But I am hoping to impart a little encouragement and a little inspiration

I was in Canadian Tire yesterday and saw a couple of Father's Day cards that stopped me in my tracks.  Both of them had simple verses inside, but what caught my attention was the picture on each card.  It was of a hot air balloon. 


This will be the sixth year I have walked by card racks in the store around Father's Day and wanted to pick one up for my Dad.  This year I was almost tempted to do just that.  You see... these cards were reminding me of something that Dad and I wanted to do together, but didn't.   I wrote about it in the post A Hot Air Dream.


Father's Day is hard day for some people.  It was for me.  All my negative feelings toward my father seemed to come out one day of the year.  It was the day of the year that I would skip church.  Father's day sermons were not on my like-to-listen-to list for a lot of years. 

I shared this in a letter not that long ago.

"Kids are weird that way.  The grudges we have against our dads seem to surface on Father’s day.  Birthday cards and Christmas cards aren’t hard to get... but Father’s day cards... Go figure. "


I find a bit of irony in the fact that Mother's day doesn't seem to have the same problem.  Our issues with our Mom's don't prevent us from sharing cards and flowers with her in May... but come June the card sales are different .



I can make a good guess that Mother's Day cards far out sell Father's Day cards.

Why is that???

Why are we more forgiving of our mothers than our fathers?  Day after day, both parents have their opportunity to disappoint their children.  Why is that?  Can it be that kids have set the expectations of their parents way too high.  Mom and Dad are supposed to be the epitome of perfection.  Right???

Now here's the catch... both parents are not flawless, but somehow, Moms are more forgiven than Dads.  Just ponder that one for a while.  Do our Dads hurt us more?  Do our Moms love us more?

Moms didn't have to resort to fear like Dads did.  Moms had love; Dads had fear.  Is it any wonder now why Moms get more cards than Dads do?


I think if we, as kids, can wrap our heads around this, then the journey to forgiving our Dads will be a lot shorter.  Dads were given the shorter straw in the parenting responsibilities.  They didn't carry their children for nine months, they didn't give birth, and if you belong to my generation, dads didn't get up in the early mornings to feed their children.  Dads worked to provide for their family, Moms stayed home and actually built a relationship with their children and learned to love their kids.

Then when those kids bent the rules or broke something, then it was Dad's responsibility to get involved... which usually required Fear.

Again, I ask... is it any wonder why Moms get more cards than Dads?


THEY DID THE BEST THEY COULD WITH WHAT THEY WERE GIVEN.

If you can believe this... then the journey to forgiving your Dad will be a lot shorter.


I already admitted that Father's Day was hard for me when my Dad was alive.  I have something else to admit.  I only had two months to experience PERFECT LOVE with my dad, and that wasn't any where near June.  I had a lot of years where I set the bar too high for my dad to jump over.  He told me once that he did the best he could... I just chose not to believe it until he was gone.

During the last two months of his life, there was a big change in our relationship.  The fear was gone.  There was no longer any need for him to instil fear in my life and no longer any need for me to receive it from him.  For two months, while his body was taken over by cancer, PERFECT LOVE became more powerful than fear.  Everything changed.


I want to share something with you right now.  It is a powerful verse from the Bible.  ( 1 JOHN 4)

PERFECT LOVE DRIVES OUT FEAR.  


 PERFECT LOVE is something your Dad isn't capable of on his own.   PERFECT LOVE is something you are not capable of on your own.  PERFECT LOVE is God given.  Wrap your head around that?.. You can't.  This is something the mind can't grasp or understand or justify.  PERFECT LOVE.

I can't tell you how to love your Dad... I can only tell you that you can... with the God infused  PERFECT LOVE in you.  It has all the power to change you if you are up for the challenge.  All you have to do is ask.  

Maybe it all starts this year... with a Father's day card.  


P.S.  Thank you to all the Dads our there that shared your pictures on the internet. 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Awkwardness of Prayer Requests.

WARNING:  AFTER READING THIS BLOG POST, YOU MAY NEVER WANT TO FORWARD  A PRAYER REQUEST AGAIN.  (to me anyway...) 

SO IF THAT IS STILL IMPORTANT TO YOU.  YOU MAY WANT TO AVOID READING THIS POST.  JUST A SUGGESTION. 


I am going to allow myself the privilege of total disclosure right not.  After all I did name this blog "Ruby gets Real".  Here it is folks...


SOME...
 NO... 
MOST...
 NO... 
ALL 

PRAYER REQUESTS 
CAN BE... 
NO... 
WILL BE...
 NO...
ARE

VERY AWKWARD!

Here's the deal.  I'm not saying that prayer requests are wrong.  I am not saying, that in some circumstances, they can't be helpful to some people.  I am also not trying to change your understanding of prayer and the need to request it from other people.  I'm just sharing my thoughts, as I have been able to do in this blog.  That is why I am using the term awkward.  It's an accurate description of how I perceive the issue and it aught not attack anyone else's beliefs.  (trust me... I'm not trying to poke any holes in anyone's beliefs or theology) 

I've blogged before about prayer, in Ruby gets Real and in Bearz Blog. 

(the links are listed from most recent posts to older posts.)  


It's obvious from reading my previous ramblings on prayer, that I've struggled with my spiritual communication skills for awhile now.  But more than anything... I want to be real and authentic.  That's my passion and my desire. 


 Prayer, for me, involves compassion.


 I've admitted in this post and previous posts that I want to be authentic in my communication.  Especially when it comes to communicating with my Creator.   Real prayer, for me, involves compassion... ALL THE TIME. 

Sometimes I get a prayer request by someone I know for someone I don't know.  It is immediately AWKWARD. Compassion isn't always drummed up in me when I read an email from a friend.  It's the honest truth.  Not all stories out there move me.  Especially when I don't know the person and have no connection to their issue. 

Most often, I will delete those emails or ignore them.  But it becomes extremely awkward when I'm asked in person to pray for someone and the compassion isn't registering on the radar.  What am I supposed to say?  

"Sorry... I have no compassion for your friend. I'm not going to pray for them."

I don't say it, but more often than not... it's true. What I won't say now is that I'll pray.  I don't like saying that anymore.  I would rather just do it... If the compassion is there. 

 Without compassion, prayers have no substance. They are what Eugene Peterson referred to in Matthew 6 as theatrical productions. (see below for the exerpt from the Message.) 

Prayer, for me, is more about understanding than asking




I'm really getting good at ignoring prayer requests from people that involve good fortune, healing and provision. 

I think as I learn to live in God's love and find myself wrapped up in what He is doing, I am movitated less and less to ask Him for stuff.  

I get requests from people to pray for provision and healing.  But here's the catch. Since I am letting go of asking God for stuff for me, how am I supposed to ask Him for stuff for anyone else?  And healing?  That is even more awkward. Even when it comes to the people I am compassionate about and their illnesses, it's still hard to pray for deliverance from sickness.  My prayers are rather this...

"Help me understand where You are in all of this. And help me understand where You want me to be.  I don't get it, but I'm not letting go of You."

Can I let you in on a little secret.  God still surprises me with gifts even without my asking.  

Prayer for me isn't always in English



 Quite a few years ago, I was given a gift by my Compassionate Creator.  He allowed me moments in my life where I can communicate with Him spirit to Spirit.  He knows my challenging communication skills and maybe this was His way of opening up those channels so I can communicate with Him better. 

 Praying in a spiritual language  is much like my poetry gift.  It isn't always at my fingertips and I can't just drum up the gift any time.  It comes when the Holy Spirit opens the door.  It is like His invitation to me to communicate with Him totally selflessly and without hindrance. This is never awkward.  And when it comes, there is no manipulation or expectations... and I don't know what I'm saying.  But my heart begins to ache for the person on my mind and sometimes I can even feel their pain.  


Prayer, for me, isn't about numbers, it's about connection. 


There's a belief system, that the more people one can get to pray for something or someone... the better chance that there will be a favourable response.  

I am not certain where this belief came from and if it even works.  Does God feel moved to heal someone because a hundred people prayed instead of just one or two?  I find that hard to believe.  And I can't find it supported in scripture, either.  But then again I may have missed it.  


Doesn't  this mesh more with God's picture of prayer:  

 - A mother prays for her son who is battling drug addiction.

 - A husband prays for his wife as she faces cancer treatments. 

 - A young girl prays for her friend who was in a car accident.

 - A dad prays for his daughter the morning she is to get married.  

These examples reek of  compassion.  

Prayer, for me, isn't about results, it's about relationship. 


When prayer is about results, then I can see why someone wants an army on their knees.  I happen to be convinced that most corporate churches are more results focused.  Prayer has become an industry.  We have so many books, conferences and ministries  out there that are trying to teach us how to pray.  

Jesus showed us how to pray in a few verses.  But with Jesus, things were a whole lot simpler, because Jesus was all about relationship. 

***

This blog post is past the average attention span. So to end it, I am going to ask some questions and then share some scriptures on prayer that I really like. 



After you pray about something, do you experience contentment? 

If contentment isn't there after you pray, do you experience contentment if you know someone else also prayed? 

How many people does it take to pray for your specific need... before you reach contentment? 

Contentment?

Yes... Contentment with God that He heard you.  

My last question (this one is rhetorical) : 

Does God really need an army of pray - ers?  Will He not settle for one compassionate pray - er that wants to connect with Him?



Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns.  Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

Phillipians 4:6-7
 "Here’s what I’m saying: Ask and you’ll get; Seek and you’ll find; Knock and the door will open.
 "Don’t bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. This is not a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we’re in. If your little boy asks for a serving of fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate?  If your little girl asks for an egg, do you trick her with a spider? As bad as you are, you wouldn’t think of such a thing-you’re at least decent to your own children. And don’t you think the Father who conceived you in love will give the Holy Spirit when you ask him?" 
Luke 11:9-13

"And when you come before God, don’t turn that into a theatrical production either. All these people making a regular show out of their prayers, hoping for stardom! Do you think God sits in a box seat?

"Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.

 "The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God.  Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply. 

Matthew 6: 5-9